The job description of physical therapists varies from country to country due to different professional standards. As a consequence the physical therapy education is adapted to the existing requirements of the present physical therapy regulations within a country. The main focus concerning the content is set to provide the students with the necessary information they need to be able to graduate and work in the specific country they have studied in. Teaching strategies are adapted to the teaching content and adjusted to the needs of the students. Overall, the physical therapy education is integrated to fit into the standard education system of each state or country and each reveals its own advantages.
In Austria the physical therapy education guidelines are subject to the FH-MTD training regulations and are taught in “Fachhochschulen” (RIS, 2018). In contrast the physical therapy education in the United States has its own regulations and standards and students are educated in graduate school. (Estes, 2017) Since the systems are different from each other, a bachelor’s degree in Austria cannot be compared to one in the United States.
In the USA, American students have to undergo a four year undergraduate process. There is not a specific major they have to take but they do have to fulfill certain required prerequisites within those four years before they are allowed to continue to graduate school where they can then major in physical therapy. This program takes another two and a half years and is finalized with a DPT (Doctor of physical therapy) degree. (PTCAS, 2017), (Estes, 2017) In Austria high school graduates can continue to a three year physical therapy school and graduate with a bachelor’s degree, without having to take additional schooling in between. (ISCED, 2014) Although the time frame to get a DPT degree in Arizona is greater than getting a physical therapy bachelor’s degree in Austria, these two degrees are relatively comparable concerning the content of the two programs.
Since the post-secondary education system in the USA is already significantly different from the one in Austria the question is whether specific subjects in the physical therapy education differ and how they differ. The comparison of the neurology education within the physical therapy schooling in Arizona and Austria will reveal examples of differences and similarities which are inherent in the two educational systems. The comparison will not only focus on the content of the neurology classes, it should also include the teaching strategies and historically important figures.
The key question which will be discussed in this thesis is the following:
What are the differences and similarities in the physical therapy educational program in Arizona and in Austria using the specialty of neurology as an example? Specific focus will be put on the content, the teaching designs and the historical figures that shaped neurological methods important to physical therapy.
The World Confederation of Physical Therapy has lined out a Strategic Plan for the years 2017-2021 to fulfill their vision: “WCPT’s vision is to move physical therapy forward so the profession is recognized globally for its significant role in improving health and wellbeing.” (WCPT, 2017) Among other aims the mission of this plan is to “unite the profession internationally; (…) promote high standards of physical therapy practice, education and research; …” (WCPT, 2017) To achieve these goals international cooperation is essential. Understanding the principles of other country’s physical therapy job descriptions and the resulting education is necessary to start the process of fulfilling this plan. (WCPT, 2017)
The public perception is that these goals are especially important but also especially hard to reach for countries with lower standards and a younger physical therapy history. At the same time it is generally assumed that two countries with similar conditions concerning education systems should provide the same physical therapy schooling. The aim of this thesis is to point out how physical therapy education can differ within highly developed countries or states like Austria and Arizona. Even though the countries may have comparable education standards there still maybe differences in a specific curriculum.
The bachelor thesis one mainly focuses on the differences and similarities of the educational programs in Austria and Arizona. The findings of the bachelor thesis one is a foundation for the research made in the second bachelor thesis.